The Universe Versus Alex Woods is a great book that had me utterly charmed. I had read many positive reviews of this one, and noted that it made it onto this summer's Richard and Judy Book Club list, but had no idea just how much I would enjoy it.
The book starts in a dramatic fashion as Alex is stopped by border police while trying to enter the UK at a ferryport with 113 grams of home-grown marijuana and an urn full of human remains in the passenger seat. Having well and truly hooked the reader from the off, Alex tells the story of how he ended up in such a pickle, starting with the day of his freak encounter with that whopping chunk of celestial rubble. Extence makes absolutely sure that from the first page you are not going to want to put this book down.
Alex is a thoroughly charismatic protagonist. At times he seems naive, elsewhere he gives the impression of being wise beyond his years. It is touching to see him keep the unlikeliest of company in Mr Peterson and the eclectic mix of people in his Kurt Vonnegut book club. It really made me think about how the closest friendships can sometimes be found in the most unexpected places. Alex also has a definite sense of right and wrong and approaches some very heavy ethical issues in a logical, black-and-white way. His moral dilemmas are dealt with very sensitively and I had a real lump in my throat at the end of the book.
I will finish by saying that Kurt Vonnegut is one of my all-time favourite authors and the prospect of the Vonnegut references was definitely a major reason why I picked this book up in the first place. So perhaps the greatest praise I can give to The Universe Vs Alex Woods is that it has made me look at passages from some of my favourite books in a new context, and honestly I feel it has enhanced my enjoyment of them.
I think The Universe Vs Alex Woods is a book with widespread appeal. I hope this review has piqued your interest!
Many thanks to the folks at Hachette for giving me the opportunity to read this one via NetGalley.